WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN
Even through the horrendous quality of the international call Mark O’Connell, longtime drummer of Taking Back Sunday sounds brimming with anticipation. Having spent the last 20 years at the top of the emo rock scene and an upcoming greatest hits record and world tour, right off the bat its clear no love has been lost or passion diluted over the decades.
“When you’re that young you don’t think that far ahead”, O’Connell responds, discussing Taking back Sunday’s two decades at the forefront of the rock scene. “I feel like. What we do is very real. I know that what we do is very real and I think that people know that too.”
“When you’re that young you don’t think that far ahead…”
“As a band and it’s pretty crazy. I’m pretty proud of that.” His smile is now becoming audible, “You know like, that doesn’t really happen. It really is the dream come true. Like that’s really what I’ve wanted my whole life.” However with the huge success of Taking Back Sunday still years away, at the time of releasing “Tell All Your Friends” in 2002 the band’s dream of gracing stages the world over was still exactly that, with disbelief and scrutiny ever hard to find. Revealing the guys had to maintain their faith in their output “right off the bat”, Mark says that since the very beginning the doubt never stepped on his inspiration, “what else could I do? I don’t really have any other skills. So I didn’t know. So my answer is that I don’t know but I would always say like I think you know from five years from now will we be able to score and make a living?”
Whereas many artists seem to lose their pace and fall off the edge of the map after only a few years at the top, or even remembered as a fad or the latest group to imitate the flavour of the month, an incredible seven albums in and Taking Back Sunday have continued to produce compelling material, with their first three albums becoming synonymous with emo. However, even this level of success and legendary status can be a bands downfall, causing the all too familiar cries of “it’s not as good as their old stuff”, making ever show preceding a new release more akin to a band fulfilling roles in their own tribute act.“I guess we never tried to like write a hit song knowing what type of music is popular.” Shares the drummer, “So I think that’s One thing we did, I don’t know that maybe that’s why we’re still here and relevant and people want to come see us places. We have the drive to make the best music that we possibly can and deliver the best show that we possibly can.”
“that’s why we’re still here and relevant and people want to come see us.”
This authenticity is far from lacking across the new tracks on their upcoming album. “Even talking about it is really hard right now”, and in a mere handful of word the natural delight and exuberance in the drummers, voice is decimated. “My friend Dan actually Committed suicide a couple years back.”
“He was a musician and he actually taught me a lot about songwriting. He had a problem with drugs and he just couldn’t, he couldn’t get past it and it took over his life.” Mark continues frequently pausing for composure, uttering the words through voice cracks as if fighting a lump in his throat. “One day he just It became too much I guess.”
“The day after I just wrote. I can’t write lyrics so I write music, kind of Like out of feeling” Mark sighs. “. That song, it kind of just came to me and I called it a song for Dan.” Turning such a crippling, harrowing experience into a driving force for your art is admirable and if nothing else displays sincere artistic integrity.
“Everybody’s always writing”, assures the drummer, “we already have a bunch of good ideas for the next album… We are nowhere close to even done musically. I feel like we have so much left in us…“It’s a good time right now. It’s a good time to be taking back Sunday. And with two sold-out shows in New Jersey just around the corner, these guys are showing no signs of slowing down before a jam-packed 2019. “I think this is going to be our fifth year. Man, I’m telling you like, when we play in New Jersey, these. People, they go nuts! There’s always so much fun. I love playing there.”
Twenty is out via Craft Recordings on the 11th January.